Design-Inspired Graduation Gifts!

April 9, 2012

This post is dedicated to: The Return of Mad Men!

Q: Hey, Roadtrip Nation Design Team! My son/daughter/niece/nephew/friend is graduating from design school, and I have no idea what to get him/her as a gift. Whatever shall I do?

A: Don’t fret! We’re here to help! We’ve put together a guide of our favorite design-inspired gifts and resources to help your designer-to-be get on his or her feet in the design community—and get inspired!


Moleskine : I pretty much use Moleskine sketchbooks for everything, and every time I go to the art store I always see new Moleskine covers designed from different artists. I found this site where you can find all kinds of ideas to customize your ‘Skine! You can also find a lot of the designed Moleskines featured on their site. I love their design with the nifty pocket in the back panel as well as all the different sizes and styles. This is a perfect gift for your favorite doodler!

Enormous Champion: I love these script and halftone cards designed by Brooklyn-based Enormous Champion. These would be perfect to write that special note to a loved one. I know I’d love to get one of these!

Society 6: One of my favorite hand letterers is Chris Piascik. He’s incredibly funny, and his skills are incredible. He’s got great color choices and a huge variety of drawing type to choose from. I found his Society 6 shop through his website, where he posts a drawing a day! It’s insane how much work this dude puts out. And, speaking of Mad Men, check this awesome print out:

You can pretty much spend hours on his site trying to pick your favorite print to purchase for your wall…they are all so damn good! What I like about Society 6 is that it allows you to take your art and translate it for many mediums without a ton of work…such a rad concept for artists. Also, Jon Contino is using Society 6 to sell his art prints. One last one:

I would LOVE this print by David Fleck. Love the watercolor treatment with the hand-done line work. So freaking goood.

Colosseotype: We interviewed Cameron Moll on our Indie Roadtrip to San Francisco for the How Interactive Design Conference in November last year, and he has some amazing letterpress posters. I would ADORE one of these bad boys framed and hung up on my wall!

Ork Posters: Also, these city posters are pretty popular these days. Not sure where I’ve seen them before, but I wouldn’t mind getting one of these silkscreened beauts for my walls, either:


Scripts: Elegant Lettering from Design’s Golden Age by Steven Heller and Louise Fili

I love script fonts. Really, I can’t get enough. This book features Steven and Louise’s vast collection of script fonts in advertising, street signs, invitations, type-specimen books, and personal letters.

Quarterly Co.: This is a subscription service—for $25 you get a rad package from someone in the design industry you admire! Each mailing has a unique hashtag (e.g. #YAY02), so you can follow its progress on Twitter. I’m expecting my package from Swiss Miss any day now! Click here to buy a gift subscription!

Yellow Owl Workshop: Yellow Owl Workshop specializes in limited-edition paper goods and stamp kits. I got to see a really cool demo by the owner, Christine Schmidt, on how easy it is to make your own patterns from your stamps! Here is their book and kit with everything you need to do this yourself, all in one awesome package!

Free Gifts/Resources!

Send your grad these free, helpful resources to enrich their design portfolios:

Typekit: The free account on Typekit gives you access to 205 fonts to use on your website! Add a line of code to and choose from hundreds of web fonts—simple, bulletproof, standards compliant, accessible, and totally legal.

Inker Linker: Find an awesome printer. A great site for finding a print shop that specializes in letterpress, offset, digital, screen printing, or engraving services. They also feature shops that offer print workshops or the ability to rent time on a press to do your own projects! Our very own Michelle Dreher’s (who appeared in Season Seven) letterpress shop is also listed as a resource.

Lost Type Co-Op: This site provides unique and quality fonts based on a pay-what-you-want model. All designers get 100 percent of the donations their font receives.

P.S. If you dug the dedication song, you can buy the vinyl here!

Best wishes, and Happy Graduation!


Design Team

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